US charges five Russians, two Americans with conspiracy on behalf of Russian gov't

The defendants allegedly conspired to obtain military-grade and dual-use technologies from US companies and smuggle sniper rifle ammunition in violation of US sanctions.

The FSB headquarters at Lubyanka Square (photo credit: NVO/CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The FSB headquarters at Lubyanka Square
(photo credit: NVO/CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The United States on Tuesday unsealed a 16-count indictment charging five Russian nationals and two US nationals with conspiracy related to a global procurement and money-laundering scheme on behalf of the Russian government.

Among those indicted is a suspected Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, a Justice Department statement said.

It said the defendants conspired to obtain military-grade and dual-use technologies from US companies for Russia’s defense sector and to smuggle sniper rifle ammunition in violation of new US sanctions imposed earlier this year.

Among those charged were Yevgeniy Grinin, 44, Aleksey Ippolitov, 57, and Svetlana Skvortsova, 41, all of Moscow; Boris Livshits, 52, and Vadim Konoshchenok, 48, both of St. Petersburg; and Americans Alexey Brayman, 35, from New Hampshire; and Vadim Yermolenko, 41, from New Jersey.

Brayman and Yermolenko have been arrested while Konoshchenok, a suspected FSB officer, was arrested in Estonia on Dec. 6 and will undergo extradition proceedings to the United States, the Justice Department statement said. Grinin, Ippolitov, Livshits and Skvortsova remain at large, it said.

The Herbert C. Hoover Building in Washington, DC (credit: APK/CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)The Herbert C. Hoover Building in Washington, DC (credit: APK/CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The indictment alleges the defendants unlawfully purchased and exported highly sensitive and heavily regulated electronic components, some of which can be used in the development of nuclear and hypersonic weapons, quantum computing and other military applications.

Konoshchenok would ship or physically smuggle US-origin items from Estonia to Russia, including dual-use electronics, military-grade tactical ammunition and other export-controlled items, the Justice Department said.

It added that the defendants were affiliated with Serniya Engineering and Sertal LLC, Moscow-based companies that operate under the direction of Russian intelligence services.

Earlier on Tuesday, the US Commerce Department said Washington has temporarily suspended export privileges for three people and two companies following unauthorized exports of "sensitive items" to Russia.

US sanctions against Russia

The United States and its allies have imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Moscow since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.